What are the most effective coping mechanisms we can use to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives? Consider this list of what others have done that has been helpful for them. Put a check mark by those that may be particularly applicable to you and your situation. This list can become your personal guide to greater peace.

1. Ask for help by reaching out to those you trust

Talk about your anxieties. The worst thing you can do is to hold it all inside.

2. When procrastinating making difficult phone calls, writing letters, or the need to confront someone, take action and do it. And do it now.

You can do hard things. Procrastination only creates more stress.

3. Honesty is always the best policy

Secrets and lying are at the core of all wrong doing, especially addictions. Come out of the shadows. Stop making excuses. Just be honest and do the right thing. Confession is good for the soul and reduces stress.

4. Set boundaries!

We need to take care of ourselves. Say "No!" when it is in your best interest. You don't have to always explain or give reasons. You have the right to protect yourself. Those who say "Yes" to everything and everyone will suffer from severe stress and burnout.

5. It's OK to cry

You will feel better, and you won't cry forever. It is not always necessary to keep a stiff upper lip. Occasionally, we all need to vent our pent-up emotions and have a good cry.

6. When having a bad dream, wake up, close your eyes again and re-write the dream so you are the hero.

Do the same in writing your life's script so you can see yourself coming out on top. You can script your life to be what you want people to see in you and to pay tribute to you for when you die.

7. Be transparent

Allow others to see you as you are. Let people know you as flawed and imperfect but are trying and succeeding to grow and improve. People who put up barriers and pretend to be something they are not live in fear that, if everyone knew the truth about them, they would be rejected and friendless. This is a mythical fear and creates unnecessary stress. Those who are genuine, down to earth, and unpretentious have less stress in their lives and more friends.

8. Praise yourself

Talk to yourself in soothing, loving, and forgiving tones. Acknowledge your strengths and your goodness. Positive self talk is an important ingredient for growth. You may erroneously fear that you will become egotistical, and you would be if you bragged to others. Direct all of your positive self talk, privately, to yourself. Forgive yourself. You are only a mortal doing what you can. Be your own best friend and give yourself words of encouragement. You must be willing to lovingly discipline, kindly correct, constantly support, and quickly forgive yourself.

9. When you are struggling and stressing yourself with doubt, realize that developing self confidence begins by acting confidently and by doing the things that confident people do.

Take action first and the feelings will follow. When acting in confident and loving ways, you may at first feel like a phony, but as you go through the motions, confident and loving emotions will follow.

10. Success is not doing everything right

It is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Don't expect perfection from yourself or from others. As with all endeavors, you will have ups and downs. Just be glad you are moving the right direction. Give yourself credit for every good thing and every achievement you have done. When having a bad day, remember that tomorrow is another day and you must never, never, never give up.

11. When you are stressed from being overwhelmed, you can remind yourself that you are a good problem solver.

You can follow the three Ds: Dump it, take some things off your plate; Delegate it, assign some tasks to others or pay others to do them; and Do It, get busy and do whatever is left.

12. Avoid burn out

Take time for yourself. Reward yourself by finding healthy ways to celebrate anything you do right. Make healing a top priority. Eat nutritionally, exercise, take rests and enjoy life. Leave your office at a reasonable time; the work will still be there tomorrow but, you have a life to live, so leave work, go home and enjoy your family.

13. For those who need "alone" time, consider listening to pleasant music, enjoying a hot tub, having a massage, or taking a yoga class.

There also are great benefits from taking a 20-30 minute power nap between 1-3 pm. If not convinced, talk to anyone from a Latin culture about how much they enjoy their siestas.

14. Journalize feelings

Paper is forgiving and not judgmental. Seeing your thoughts on paper allows you to see things in a better light. It allows you to see the pros and cons of your dilemmas which aids you in making good decisions.

15. To relieve stress, do something physical

Walking, running, biking, golfing, swimming, hiking, playing tennis, etc. Work up a good sweat and expel the negative energy.

16. A certain amount of stress is beneficial. It helps us complete necessary tasks

If you didn't have some stress, you would be dead. Life is hard, and was designed that way by a loving God to teach us lessons that we would not learn any other way. The closer you are to God the greater will be your faith in Him and the greater will be your assurance that He knows what is best. Your prayers will not always be answered the way you want, but you can always be sustained by His love and enjoy His peace which greatly reduces stress. Those with faith count it a source of comfort to know they are not going through this life alone.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Strengthening Marriage and Family. It has been republished here with permission.

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